You might be surprised how many people don’t make the proper plans for what happens to their property when they pass on. In fact, it’s estimated that 70% of people don’t make any estate plans whatsoever. It doesn’t mean that they aren’t concerned about their family and friends; it just means that they didn’t want to think about end of life plans until it’s too late. What happens if you die without a will in Montana?
When you die without a proper estate plan, your possessions and assets have to go through probate in order to be distributed among your living heirs. This can be a complicated process and it’s overseen by courts. Learn who receives your property if you die without a will in Montana, and how Montana probate laws function to ensure the disposition of your estate.
Probate Laws if You Die Without a Will in Montana
Montana probate laws exist to help people who are in need of determining how to distribute assets after a loved one dies without a will. Certain aspects of these laws are pretty straightforward, and they depend on who the survivors are. If there is only a spouse, for example, the spouse is entitled to the entire estate. If the survivors are a spouse and children of both the spouse and the deceased, again, the spouse gets all the property.
If the decedent’s parents are alive as well as the spouse, the spouse gets $200,000 plus 75% of the balance of the estate, and the rest goes to the parents. If there is a spouse and children from a previous marriage, and stepchildren, the spouse gets $150,000 plus 50% of the balance. Children get 50% of the balance. Stepchildren aren’t entitled.
The laws can get more complex if there are others left behind—grandchildren, grandparents, siblings and other relatives, depending on which relatives are still alive.
The Complexities of Probate
Probate laws are very complex, and they’re being revised all the time to deal with unforeseen circumstances. These statutes, overall, are known as the Montana Law of Intestate Succession. For example, laws have to deal with what happens when one member of a business dies, when that person was one of multiple owners of the business. There are also rules regarding the survival of heirs, for out-of-state property, contractual agreements, what happens if there are no heirs, when the only heirs are minor children and more.
The best way to avoid probate is to have a solid estate plan in place. When someone dies without a will, the courts may take the desires of the surviving heirs into account, but they are not bound by law to do so. It’s important, in such cases, to have help from an experienced and qualified Montana probate attorney.
The right attorney can help you to create an estate plan that will avoid probate, frustration and headaches for your heirs at one of the most difficult time of their lives. If you are facing probate, an estate planning lawyer can ease the burden and clarify the process. If you need help in dealing with such an estate issue, contact Tanko Law today.